Muscatine Journal News-Tribune

Muscatine, IA

11 Nov 1944




Rain, Mud Delay Fifth Army Push Against Enemy

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the Fifth Army in Italy (IDPA) -- When this was written rain had been falling for days and nights on the area on which I was trying to work. It was as if Niagara Falls were in the sky.

"Hitler weather," Americans here call it because it slows our troops, hampers our artillery and grounds our planes.

When roads are almost impassable, even for a jeep, and fog is so dense you can only see a few feet ahead of yourself, a war correspondent simply can't get into the field.

Tough? Easy at the worse in a press camp compared to what the doughboys endure up front.

There are, however, good stories available from fighting men spending a few days at the Fifth army rest center. That is where I found T/5 Russell Field, of Joice.

Iowans Are Veterans

Iowans are now a small minority of the 34th division but when you see one with five overseas bars on his left sleeve it's almost a safe bet he's a Hawkeye, a Gopher or a Dakotan.

Field, a blonde blue-eyed, tall and broad, wears that many. What impressed me most was his pleasant expression as he stood alone listening to Red Cross orchestra music and looking at comrades from everywhere eating cakes and drinking coffee at the snack bar.

He started as an artilleryman at Camp Claiborne but transferred to the engineers before leaving for overseas in February, 1942. Since then he had been in Ireland, England, and Scotland, seen considerable combat in Africa and been in the fighting Fifth army from the outset in Italy. His company repairs roads torn up by shell fire, bombs and mines.

Close Call From Shell

"I was scared stiff once," he grinned, "when a shell dropped right behind us. I can laugh about it now but it wasn't funny then."

One night Field as a driver for an officer in one jeep and another enlisted man and officer in another jeep drove back and forth over a road many times.

The next morning a mine in the area over which the two machines had passed exploded under the other jeep, frightfully mangling the legs of the other officer and the GI.

"Luck must have been with my officer and me," Field said. "Because we were only a short distance away."

"Have you voted?" I inquired.

"No, I didn't send for a ballot because I have been gone too long to know anything about the political situation," he replied.

"What do you think about fighting over here?" I then asked.

"Better to have the scrap out of than in our country," he answered.

"What would you think if you were sent direct from here to tackle the Japs?" I pursued.

Will Return to Iowa

"I wouldn't like that so well but there'd be nothing much I could do about it so I'd go and try to do my stuff," he smiled.

"What are you going to do after you get out of the army?" I continued.

"See some of the United States, then return to Iowa and settle down, was the prompt retort.

Field was born on a farm and was employed by the Colby Peat Co. before he was inducted. His brother, Hubert Field, is in the merchant marine.

Source: The Muscatine Journal News-Tribune, Nov. 11, 1944

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